Cliff took a deep breath and looked over the cobblestone square on the balcony of the small apartment building. They were in Paris this month. Next month they were scheduled to visit Russia for a time. Cliff glanced down at the people walking along the streets and began to write. The travels had given him so much to write about, both fiction and nonfiction. Being a freelance writer helped them get by.
Erin had just finished a month long stretch with the Parisian Ballet. While she wasnt the lead, she had a significant role. Erin had grown more confident in her abilities. She wasnt the cutthroat type; the type that would sabotage others auditions for better roles. But she was good, she knew that.
Honey? Are you done in the bathroom? Cliff asked. I made you some toast if youre still feeling sick.
Erin had been ill much of the last week. She almost never got sick, but for some reason it had come on strong shortly after this performance season.
Erin nodded, rubbing her stomach some and looking at Cliff. Thanks, sweetie, she responded, sitting down and reaching her hand across the table to take a slice of bread.
Cliff looked at her worriedly. Are you ok? You havent been this sick since I met you. He asked.
She blushed some, nodding. Ill be fine; I just got a bug or something.
Cliff began, reaching over and rubbing his wifes cheek. You havent been able to keep anything down for two days, youre pale and you havent been sleeping. Come on, lets just go to the hospitaliere.
Erin blushed. But we were supposed to meet Melissa for lunch. Shes here for the fashion week, remember?
He shook his head. Its ok, well catch her for dinner, but first, Im taking you to get checked out.
Erin blushed and nodded. Soon, they found themselves in a small hospital room waiting for the doctor to come back with her test results. She had had more tests on her in the hospital than she could ever recall. To be frank, it made her nervous. She was wary around the bleached white of hospitals, and the sting of the stainless steel needle that they had jabbed into her arm didnt make the experience any more palatable. But whenever Cliff looked at her worriedly, she just took his hand and smiled, squeezing it.
Its fine. I just have the flu or something. Theyll give me some pills and Ill be good as new in a week, she insisted, kissing his hand some.
A short while later, the doctor came back into the room. Bonjour, Miss Roberts, he said, smiling softly at her while he looked over her chart.
Whats going on? Is it the flu? Cliff asked, not wanting to stall any further.
The doctor let out a low hmm as he examined the chart. Im afraid not, Mister Roberts, he said, looking up at them.
Erin tilted her head, glancing up at Cliff, then at the doctor. What is it, then?
The doctor nodded. Youre pregnant.
Erin and Cliff both stared forward, stunned by the news. The doctor simply looked at them, waiting for them to respond.
Are you sure I cant have the pills?
10 years later
Yo soy Vicentillo,
Que vengo a cantar.
Y al nino que llora,
Y al nino que llora,
Mi sol sol sol,
Mi sol sol sol
No llores, bien mio
No llores mas no
No llores bien mio
No llores mas no
She felt a pair of firm hands on her shoulder. She looked up to see Cliff standing over her. The decade had been kind to him. His long hair was combed back and he sported a thin goatee.
Are you singing to her again, sweetie? he asked, rubbing Erins shoulders.
Erin blushed and nodded, looking down some and rubbing her belly. It was well swollen now; the baby would be born soon. My mother said singing helps them, she responded, smiling up at him.
Cliff leaned over her and kissed her softly. I just put David to bed. You need to me get you anything while Im up?
She smiles, rubbing the back of his neck and pulling him in, kissing him deeply. A few moments later, she let go, rubbing his cheek. Some tea would be nice. They say its good for her.
They hadnt decided on a name for her yet. She was their second child. Their first had been a surprise. They had been living a brilliant life. They loved each other very much and doing this they could live cheaply and see the world. The travel gave Cliff a color with his writing that made it shine, an experience that was valuable for his career.
Davids birth changed that. Erin kept dancing as long as she could, but soon she knew she could delay it no longer. They bought a house in a quiet little suburb and a short while later, he was born. They named him after Erins father, a tradition in Erins family. It was hard at first, but they got by. Cliff began writing more and more. With experience, he found more work, enough to support his wife and child. David was a healthy baby boy with Cliffs complexion, Erins eyes and the appetite of a hippopotamus. From the moment she laid her eyes on him, Erin would never regret giving up her career for him.
Cliff returned with the tea, smiling as he held it in front of Erin. Here you are, sweetie, he said, setting the small ceramic cup in her hands. Erin closed her eyes and smelled the sweet aroma before lifting the cup to her lips and sipping.
thank you, honey, she said, smiling up at him.
Cliff sat down, rubbing her stomach some. Have you thought about what we should name her? he asked.
Erin shook her head. N-no
not yet. Im still torn between Elizabeth and Katie.
Cliff nodded, rubbing her back. Dont feel obligated to name her after my mom. You can name her Katie if you like, he assured her.
Erin shot a grin over at her. Yeah? Well, I like the name Erica too, she said, sticking her tongue out.
Cliff leaned back some before smiling. Dont even joke like that, he said, kissing Erins cheek.
Erin smiled, rubbing his hand. They had planned a baby shower the next day. Almost everyone she knew was coming in. Even Melissa was flying in from New York and her cousin from Los Angeles. You sure you dont mind taking David for the die while we have a shower? she asked, looking down some.
He smiled, rubbing her head. Of course not. Ive already finished my article, and you deserve a rest and some time with the girls, he said, kissing her cheek.
She finished her tea and got to her feet, smiling. Thanks, sweetie. Im going to go change, Ill be right back.
Inside her room, she sat down on her bed and slowly began to change. Well, that name joke went over like a bag of wet cement, a familiar voice from behind her said.
Erin paused, taking a deep breath before turning her head. You? I havent seen you in
Its been a long time, hasnt it? Erica said, grinning. She was sitting on Erins bed, cross-legged as she looked the girl over. Youve been busy, havent you?
its been busy since my wedding
she said, sitting down.
Erica ran her fingers through her hair, smiling. Its amazing how much youve grown.
Erin looked down for a moment, then over at Erica. And its amazing how much you havent
Yes? she asked, a little curiously.
Why me? the woman responded, looking up at Erica.
Erica laughed some. Why not? Tell me; was it really that bad for you?
Erin paused and looked down. She thought about everything. Truthfully, Erica had caused her a lot of grief. But there were times when she seemed completely interested in protecting her. When Cliffs brother was angry and hit Erin, Erica appeared to protect her and Cliff. She could think of other moments, sometimes things seemed just like they just went her way. Once a car ran up the curve right in front of her and almost hit her. Somehow, it stopped just before. She thought about all the things she could remember, all the lucky breaks, all the second chances. Then she shook her head and looked up angrily at Erica.
Yes! It was terrible having someone who did anything they wanted for no reason! Erin insisted.
Erica looked down at the girl, a thin smirk crossing her face.
Good. It should be. The little girl who I first came into contact with was destined to have it rough. She wasnt from a wealthy family and she would have to work hard for everything she got. Now that girl has grown up and has started a family of her own, and those kids will have it rough. You have and will work for everything you ever get. Its not easy and, because of your respective career choices, it never will be. Youll always have to make do with what you have.
But youre stronger than youll ever realize because youve had to overcome things most people wouldnt believe, things not even of my doing. The little timid girl I first approached is gone now, grown into a strong woman. Youre almost fearless and youre willing to work hard for anything.
Because of you? Erin scoffed at the very notion that she was what she was because of Erica.
Erica leaned over her, grinning. Because of everything, because of me, because of Des, because of Claire, because of every obstacle and every struggle youve ever had to face, she responded. She reached down, rubbing Erins belly some. Erin blushed, raising her eyes towards the witch.
Why are you here now? You cant think Ill allow you to do anything to harm my baby, Erin asked as she scooted away.
Erica smiled. Of course not, I wouldnt dream of it, she responded, leaning over and kissing Erins forehead. I merely wanted to see you off.
See me off? Erin asked, tilting her head. She was more at ease at the news that Erica was leaving her be.
Erica nodded, smiling. Indeed. You have a much longer road ahead of you, one that will be filled with joys and sorrows, struggles and heartbreaks. I cant tell you whats ahead for you because I dont know, but what I can tell you is that Im no longer a part of it.
Erin paused. She didnt quite know how to take what Erica had just said. After all that, after all the games she had played with her, did she just appear to say she that? Y-youre leaving?
Erica rubbed Erins head. You know, I cant say why I chose you, but I wanted a challenge. You were one. No matter what happened, you were happy, you were trusting and you were never angry. It
it confused me. You had every reason in the world to be mad
but even now as you speak up, I can tell you arent. I hope, above all else, that you never lose that.
She stood up but Erin grabbed her hand. Erica
she said, letting out a deep sigh.
Erica looked down at her. What is it?
can you at least tell me something
what are you? Whats your real name? she pleaded, wanting something before the woman left.
Erica smiled, bending over. Can you keep a secret? You have to promise not to tell anyone.
Erin nodded nervously. Y-Yes
I know you can. Ive watched you long enough to know that, she said. My father named me Terpsichore after my mother. Im quite old in your years, but still rather young in mine.
Erin looked at Erica, tilting her head. Terpsichore? Why did you call yourself Erica? she asked, confused.
Erica smiled, kissing Erins forehead. I didnt want to give it all away.
Why me? she asked again, her face turning slightly red as she hoped to get an answer this time.
Erica looked down for a moment, her face growing stern before she looked back at her. Fate, she said. She leaned in and kissed Erin quickly and softly on the lips.
Then Erin watched as the woman glowed, her clothes, skin, hair, everything on her seeming to be engulfed by a bright yellow light. Her body seemed to shrink some, her limbs growing smaller. Soon, in front of her, was a small creature, almost catlike, with a long tail whipping around that looked to be completely made of light. As suddenly as she had changed, she disappeared.
Sweetie? Are you ok? Cliff asked, curious as to why Erin was taking so long to change.
Erin blushed and turned her head. I
Im fine, sweetie. Ill be out in a minute, she responded.
Erin never forgot what Erica had told her. It remained on her mind even as people came and went for the baby shower. She wondered if Erica had been telling the truth, if she would ever see her again. She didnt tell Cliff that Erica had visited her. She didnt want him to worry about it. She found herself wondering if it was true, if she truly would never see Erica again.
It didnt really though. She was right. Erin was strong. No matter what was ahead, she knew she and Cliff could handle it.